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Achieving sustainability - Part 2

Updated: May 11

In the last Blog post we talked about improving maturity across technology, process, data, and people to help provider organisations achieve financial sustainability.  Our focus was on the common administrative functions that exist within the majority of disability, aged care, mental health and allied health providers.  We also mentioned the complexity that emerges from the need to maintain a breadth of administrative functions, along with day to day service delivery and a plethora of processes.  We often see administrative complexity out of step with the scale of an organisation. 

Question: In this environment of complexity, how does a provider organisation affordably achieve benefits from technology, data, and processes necessary to support sustainability and improved client experience?

Context

Prior to recent years, few or no suites of technology systems existed to meet the needs and budgets of smaller organisations.  The integrated suites of technology systems were usually aimed at medium to larger organisations (>$100m in revenue).  You’ll likely have heard of Oracle NetSuite, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics etc.  Implementing just one core module (CRM, HR, or Finance) from those suites would easily cost an organisation over one million dollars, sometimes several million to implement – for just one module!  Clearly that cost structure isn’t appropriate for the majority of small-medium sized service providers.  Consequently, those SMEs adopted standalone technology systems with limited functionality and without the integration, process workflow, or automation benefits of the large technology suites.

Fortunately, the world of technology has changed, particularly in the past five years: 

  • There are now a range of cloud-hosted software tools, appropriate for the needs of small-medium sized service providers that readily exchange data with other tools, and don’t need you to maintain on-premise servers or to run your own secure network.

  • Secondly, there are now collaborations between developers of those products that pre-integrate their respective tools.  

  • Thirdly, local developers have recognised the needs of service providers and pre-configure their tools for use in an NDIS or CDC environment.

  • Lastly, the data that is captured, stored, and accessed by individual software tools can now be shared, facilitating process workflow and automation, comprehensive reporting across a breadth of metrics, and the ability to ask and answer simple yet complex business questions.

This last point is where your data strategy, your newly designed data architecture and common data model comes into its own.  Here is why:

Try to answer the question – “where have we provided services but not billed?” (aka the ‘revenue leakage’ question).

To answer this critically important question with confidence, you’ll likely need to pull together data from your rostering and scheduling system, time and attendance system, HR awards interpreter, billing module of your finance system, case management system, and the funder’s statement via their portal. All that data exists in different places in different structures, so answering the simple revenue leakage question isn’t so simple at all.

So, where is the magic?

1. We recognise that many provider organisations have a commonality of services they deliver, commonality of funding models, commonality of compliance obligations.  So, consider:

  • Choosing tools that are configured off the shelf (COTS) to meet your common needs

  • Seeking minimal customisation of those software tools

  • Adopting the standardised and proven processes that come with those tools

  • Having a clear strategy for aggregating data from multiple systems

  • Carefully planning how you’ll bring your people along for the journey, as changing ways of working is essential to gain sustainability uplifts. Recently we’ve seen several instances of service providers choosing a new tool, implementing that tool, only for their staff to reject the tool.


2. It is common practice for organisations to develop a set of functional and non-functional requirements when choosing software products.  When undertaking this exercise, carefully consider if specifying bespoke requirements is really essential.  


3. Successful transformation requires equal emphasis on four areas, not just one!

Although Blue Bike is technology agnostic, we see benefit in highlighting an example of local developers collaborating to produce pre-configured products that meet a broad range of provider needs:

Lumary: Lumary CM (care manager) provides an end to end work-flow management tool for aged and disability care providers. It brings together comprehensive NDIS stakeholder management and business workflow for the first time, in a single work-flow platform delivering agility, visibility and control. https://www.lumary.com/care-manager/

Skedulo: Mobile workforce management for the desk-less workforce. Skedulo’s Deskless Productivity Cloud is the industry’s first dedicated, cloud-based solution empowering your organisation to manage, engage, and analyse your desk-less workforce, whether they are fixed-location workers or mobile workers. Use our mobile workforce management software to simplify complex scheduling and work assignments, improve your customer experience, and do more with less. https://www.skedulo.com/

Between Lumary and Skedulo, many of the common administrative functions requiring technology enablement, have their needs met.  This combination can form the core of an NDIS & CDC enabled technology suite, at a much more affordable price-point to meet the needs of small-medium sized providers.

Domo: With the Domo Business Cloud®, you can dynamically aggregate data from multiple sources, turn that data into live visualisations, and extend BI directly into workflows and applications that empower your entire organisation. Domo can be the heart and the arteries of your data-life-blood, aggregating data from all your business tools in one engine that enables you to automate, and ask and answer difficult business questions. https://www.domo.com/why-domo.

So, where to start?  

Just as service providers will typically develop their organisational strategy, we suggest that an ICT strategy and initiatives roadmap covering technology, data, and process is the first place to start.  That strategy will be informed by a provider’s current state (issues, needs, opportunities), and then identify the targeted future state which reflects the specific needs of the organisation, its clients and staff.  The roadmap should also be accompanied by an investment roadmap, with Board approval.

In summary

This collective view of a technology, data, and process strategy is critical as all three are completely entwined.  Too often we see the desire for the shiny new tech tool, and minimal focus on data or process, with the resulting underwhelming experience. The fourth leg of the stool is people.  As we said in the prior blog, data flows through processes, is captured and altered in technology systems, by people, so their buy-in to new ways of working is essential! Sustainability uplift via enhanced operational maturity is not just a technology subject.  A planned and well executed change management program is essential to bring your people along on the journey.  Although each service provider is a little different, the fundamental points of commonality in the human and community services sector means similarity significantly outweighs difference.  That commonality creates the opportunity for affordable transformation to uplift sustainability.

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